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Letters of Ted Hughes

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  217 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Ted Hughes described letter-writing as "excellent training for conversation with the world." These nearly 300 letters--selected from several thousand--show him in all his aspects: poet, husband and father, lover of the natural world, proud Englishman, and a man for whom literature was a way of being fully alive to experience.

There are letters dealing with Hughes's work on
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Hardcover, 784 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published October 29th 2007)
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Robert
I haven't read much biography - probably fewer than ten volumes in my life. It doesn't appeal to me that much, for no clear reason, other than a lot of my reading is driven by the urge to stimulate my imagination - which is why SF and Fantasy figure strongly on my shelves. The biographies I have read are mainly of figures who have made a significant impression on me and left me with an urge to find out more about them as a person. Doing so hasn't been a waste of time so maybe I should read more? ...more
Chlöe Godsell
In February 1957, Ted Hughes wrote to his sister Olwyn. ‘What a place America is’, he noted, ‘everything is 10,000 miles from where it was plucked or made.’ From the home he was then sharing with Sylvia Plath in Northampton, Massachusetts, Hughes kept in touch with family and friends through long letters. ‘Love’, he wrote, ‘look after yourself. Eat well and speculate hopefully’.

From their new home, he went to great lengths to maintain alliances and instruct loyalists, providing a first hand acco
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minnie
This is a big book, over 700 pages of the poet Ted Hughes' letters, and still, as the editor says only a small fraction of Hughes' epistolary output. The letters start from 1947 onwards to the last, only a few days before his death in 1998. Most of the letters in this book refer in some way to poetry, language, and writing as you would expect from a Cambridge undergraduate who gets up at six and reads an hour or two of Shakespeare and Chaucer before nine. The correspondence is mostly to poets, c ...more
Ron
Im not a poetry reader, and prior to reading this, knew next to nothing about Sylvia Plath, and even less about Ted Hughes. And while in retrospoect this seems to me a strange jumping off point, I found myslef enjoying both Hughes' examination of his craft, but even more so the way a gifted contemporary poet writes his correspondence. To my (very) untrained eye, even his most causual correspondence sings with a certain beauty and heft that shines with an aura that only an exceptional talent can ...more
Diann Blakely
Ted Hughes, for much of his life, appeared to the American literary community as a caricature: a brutal Lothario whose philandering had caused the suicide of Sylvia Plath. This volume of letters, pared from hundreds by Christopher Reid, restores him to more than human stature. For Hughes’s devotion to poetry, whatever his faults as a man, was monolithic as Stonehenge and, as a result, he emerges as a monumental figure in the history of twentieth century verse.

That devotion to poetry, but also to
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e.a.
You might want to read this book for its insiders view of what Hughes called the "Fantasia" -- the never-ending fascination with the life and death of Sylvia Plath and her intersections with Ted Hughes and Assia Wevill.

And there is plenty here on that.

But more interesting is a wordy poet's writing on his craft -- and Hughes goes bone deep.

At first I was shocked at some over the leaflet reviews claiming these letters were more revealing than Keats' (his letters being a seminal text for me) but
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Jane Holland
Required reading for lovers of poetry.

From other reviews here, it is also clear that this book changes the minds of those pre-disposed to see Hughes as a monster. Personally, I came to it loving Hughes's entire body of work and bitterly disappointed that I never managed to meet the man while he was alive, and it has not disappointed. These selected letters speak clearly of a man in love with his vocation as poet, private about the emotional pain of his past, and deeply generous to everyone who
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Maria
There was a time when I saw Ted Hughes as a monster. With maturity, I have gained a more sympathetic view. I cam eo tthe book most interested in the Plath angle (his relationship with Sylvia, his dealings with Aurelia and the followers of Plath after her death, etc) but ended up most interested in his descriptions of his craft.
Brian
If you are feeling a little weary, a dip into this book will restore you.Contains wonder on every page.
Brian
As I began to read this collection of letters, I wrote: "Trying to change my mind about this guy (as an ardent Sylvia Plath fan)..."
What I discovered was how full and interesting a good collection of letters can be as a biography. A collection that spans this period of time (1947-1998) also corresponds nicely with my own timeline, and allows you to place aspects of his developing consciousness within familiar territory. I was predisposed to not like Hughes (irrationally holding him responsible i
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Isabel
Ha! Finally finished. I read this collection of letters written by Ted Hughes mainly at night in bed and so it took me about half a year.

First of all, I've never ever read anything by Ted Hughes. None that I am aware of anyway. I've not even read anything of Sylvia Plath's either. To be honest, I don't like poetry. With the exception of not even a handful poems, I can't even read them. I can't really say why, I don't have the slightest access to it, my brain shuts down the minute I see somethin
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Sam Schulman
If you don't care for Hughes' poetry, it doesn't matter - this is a terribly sad, fascinating and horrifying book about a much more extraordinary and complicated man, much less naive though still fundamentally ingenuous, than I had thought him to be, from his poems and from the Plathiana. I admired his diligence, his curiosity, his pages on living among Americas in America in the 50s - in Northampton and elsewhere - his hondling of his family and Plath's family, and his unwilling bonding with Pl ...more
Clive Varley
comprehensive work through which you gain a good insight into this interesting and influential poet.

Bruce Macdonald
Love this book and love this tragic bastard. No words can suffice. It must be read, period.
Mary Amato
Dec 26, 2014 Mary Amato marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"…one person cannot live within another's magic circle, as an enchanted prisoner."
Emma
Nov 22, 2010 Emma added it
I haven't finished this book (I am half way through it) but so far I am loving it. It really highlights just how phenomenal a poet he really was. Just the way he writes normal every day prose and his descriptions...wow.

All right so I have finished The Letters of Ted Hughes. Once again; WOW. He was the most interesting of men and his letter writing is wonderful, even his conversation flows beautifully. I knew I would cry once I finished the book-even though I knew the end.
Annelies
De Brieven van Ted Hughes wilde ik lezen omdat ik zijn gedichten in de 'birthday letters' zo schokkend prachtig vind. In zijn brieven schrijft hij over schrijven & over poëzie. Behalve bij Rutger Kopland, heb ik nooit zo van binnenuit het proces van schrijven en de worsteling ermee, gelezen. Zijn tragische leven zoemt altijd mee op de achtergrond, maar op de voorgrond staat zijn schrijversleven en dat vind ik boeiend.
Andrew  Mcgowan
An amazingly clairvoyant look into one of the worlds greatest writers and his artistry. Filled with passion, witticisms, and cogent love letters to plath, it's an education in the vocation of poetry to apiculate. A posthomous milestone, if ever there was one of any poet.
Lili
An enormous book, containing only a fraction of the letters written by Ted Hughes. It gives insights into how this man worked, into his marriage and his loves. Interesting details emerge and keep one's interest.
Chris S
Apparently this on;y scratches the surface in terms of the number of letter that TH produced. I hope ther are further volumes.
Dinis Machado
An unique and raw account of the man itself. His letters reveal a flawed, passionate and magnificent poet.
Michael
Oct 02, 2008 Michael marked it as to-read
I'm a devout Plathian in the Plathian-Hughesian wars, but this still looks like a really good book.
km
May 24, 2011 km marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"lonely bed. the way i miss you is stupid."
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The missing years... 1 10 Jan 01, 2008 11:20AM  
  • Lover of Unreason: Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath's Rival and Ted Hughes' Doomed Love
  • Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and the Story of Birthday Letters
  • Letters of John Keats
  • The Brontës: A Life in Letters
  • Selected Letters of Virginia Woolf
  • Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness
  • Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters
  • Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet
  • Letters Home
  • The Haunting of Sylvia Plath
  • Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell
  • Her Husband: Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath - A Marriage
  • Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton: An Autobiography
  • The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
  • The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982
  • Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson's Intimate Letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson
  • Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters
  • Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath
996
Edward James Hughes was an English poet and children's writer, known as Ted Hughes. His most characteristic verse is without sentimentality, emphasizing the cunning and savagery of animal life in harsh, sometimes disjunctive lines.

The dialect of Hughes's native West Riding area of Yorkshire set the tone of his verse. At Pembroke College, Cambridge, he found folklore and anthropology of particular
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More about Ted Hughes...
Birthday Letters The Iron Man: A Children's Story in Five Nights Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow (Faber Library) Collected Poems The Hawk in the Rain

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“The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.” 1983 likes
“Everybody tries to protect this vulnerable two three four five six seven eight year old inside, and to acquire skills and aptitudes for dealing with the situations that threaten to overwhelm it... Usually, that child is a wretchedly isolated undeveloped little being. It’s been protected by the efficient armour, it’s never participated in life, it’s never been exposed to living and to managing the person’s affairs, it’s never been given responsibility for taking the brunt. And it’s never properly lived. That’s how it is in almost everybody. And that little creature is sitting there, behind the armour, peering through the slits. And in its own self, it is still unprotected, incapable, inexperienced...

And in fact, that child is the only real thing in them. It’s their humanity, their real individuality, the one that can’t understand why it was born and that knows it will have to die, in no matter how crowded a place, quite on its own. That’s the carrier of all the living qualities. It’s the centre of all the possible magic and revelation. What doesn’t come out of that creature isn’t worth having, or it’s worth having only as a tool—for that creature to use and turn to account and make meaningful...

And so, wherever life takes it by surprise, and suddenly the artificial self of adaptations proves inadequate, and fails to ward off the invasion of raw experience, that inner self is thrown into the front line—unprepared, with all its childhood terrors round its ears.

And yet that’s the moment it wants. That’s where it comes alive—even if only to be overwhelmed and bewildered and hurt. And that’s where it calls up its own resources—not artificial aids, picked up outside, but real inner resources, real biological ability to cope, and to turn to account, and to enjoy.

That’s the paradox: the only time most people feel alive is when they’re suffering, when something overwhelms their ordinary, careful armour, and the naked child is flung out onto the world. That’s why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember.

But when that child gets buried away under their adaptive and protective shells—he becomes one of the walking dead, a monster. So when you realise you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self—struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence—you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenge, and without growing, and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself.”
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